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Sun Devil Football Tabs Chris Claiborne As Linebackers Coach

Jan 25, 2021

TEMPE – Head Coach Herm Edwards welcomed another addition to his Sun Devil Football coaching staff today, announcing NFL veteran and former All-American and Butkus Award winner Chris Claiborne as the program's linebackers coach.

"I'm just excited for this opportunity. I have played the position for a long time and I look forward to contributing to the growth of these young men and helping them reach their potential," Claiborne said. "Just to be in the atmosphere with this coaching staff is a blessing. With coaches like Herm Edwards, Marvin Lewis, Antonio Pierce and Shawn Slocum in the room, it is an incredible environment for a young and new coach. It will be a great opportunity and it is important for me to always be growing and be learning constantly." 

Claiborne will fill the role previously held by Antonio Pierce, who was promoted to the team's sole Defensive Coordinator last week. Claiborne spent last season as an offensive quality control analyst at his alma mater.

"I am very pleased to announce the completion of my full-time coaching staff with linebacker coach Chris Claiborne.  Chris impressed us with his passion for the game of football, for coaching young men and for recruiting at an elite level," Edwards said. "Chris will be able to relate to the young men on our team and to recruits nationwide.  I've always been a proponent of giving young coaches an opportunity and preparing them for success in their professional careers.  Chris is out of the same mold as the other young coaches on my staff like Prentice Gill, Chris Hawkins and Adam Breneman.  I hope all Sun Devil fans will join me in welcoming Chris to the NFL Model."

Claiborne, a prominent fixture in the SoCal athletic scene throughout his life, was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Riverside Sport Hall of Fame in 2011.

Claiborne was the head coach at Calabasas (Calif.) High School for two seasons prior to rejoining his alma mater (2018-19), going 17-6 overall. Calabasas won the Marmonte League title in 2019 and advanced to the CIF Division 1 playoffs. He was the defensive coordinator at Calabasas in 2014 and 2015. He also served as an assistant at Corona (Calif.) High, Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village (Calif.) and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High. He was a prep All-American and All-State pick at J.W. North High in Riverside (Calif.).

In 2012, he started a 7-on-7 team, Frat Boyz. He also privately trained players in the Southern California area and ran youth football camps. While coaching in high school, he returned to USC to finish his bachelor's degree, which he received in 2019.

Claiborne, a 3-year (1996-98) starter and Trojan captain in 1998, was USC's first winner of the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. In 1998, when he won that award, he also was a unanimous All-American and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as he notched 120 tackles, 16 pass deflections and 6 interceptions (all team highs). 

He was a Freshman All-American first team selection in 1996 and was on the the All-Pac-10 first team as a 1997 sophomore. In his Trojan career, he had 312 tackles, including 27 for loss. 

He was selected by the Detroit Lions as the ninth pick of the 1999 NFL draft (as a junior) and played 8 seasons with the Lions (1999-2002), Minnesota Vikings (2003-04), St. Louis Rams (2005) and New York Giants (2006). He had 574 combined tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 30 pass defenses and 8 interceptions in his pro career. He recorded over 100 tackles in three seasons.